Brevard sheriff calls chain-gang work program a success

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. —

Brevard County is currently operating the state's only chain gang, and after running it for a year, Sheriff Wayne Ivey is calling it a success.

Ivey said the inmates are providing thousands of dollars in free labor, saving taxpayer money.

And Channel 9's Melonie Holt found the work is so coveted within the jail system that inmates are volunteering to be sent out.

The inmates involved are low-risk who were already sentenced to time at the Brevard County Jail.  If they weren’t on the chain gang, most would still be put on work detail around the jail.

On Wednesday, the inmates were at the Brevard County Animal Shelter, where they spent time walking the dogs, cleaning kennels and collecting trash along county roads.

Inmate Joseph Howell told Holt he's in  jail for trafficking in stolen property and a violation of probation.

"Being around the dogs is fun, you know," Howell said. "You know, taking care of them. We walk them all the time, two days a week."

In the year since Ivey brought back the state's only chain gang, 96 inmates have been through the program.  Seventeen of those inmates have returned after their release from the jail. 

Ivey said the inmates saved taxpayers $175,000 last year.

Some of the inmates are also participating in panel discussions in another sheriff's office program on how to be a parent again.

"I can tell you nowhere on my bucket list was being on a chain gang, and it wasn't on anyone else's bucket list either," said Ivey. "So, we send that very strong message that jail is not the place you want to be and certainly the Brevard County Jail is not the place you want to be."

The inmates on the chain gang put in a 40-hour work week.